Up and down the country supporters of the Disasters Emergency Committee’s (DEC) faith-based charities are answering the call to help 16 million people affected by drought and conflict in East Africa.
Charities CAFOD, Christian Aid, Islamic Relief, Tearfund and World Vision UK are calling on local churches, mosques and faith communities to support the DEC’s East Africa Crisis Appeal, which launched on Wednesday 15 March 2017.
Supporters are being asked to fundraise, organise collections and to pray for the millions of people in need of lifesaving assistance in South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
The money raised will help all 13 DEC member charities responding to the crisis to reach more people in dire need. DEC charities have already provided millions of people in East Africa with food and medical supplies.
Islamic Relief UK is holding a day of action on Friday 24 March and has invited 500 mosques to take part in raising funds for the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal. In Somalia alone, Islamic Relief projects have provided 400,000 people with water, sanitation, healthcare and child welfare.
Imran Madden, UK Director of Islamic Relief, said: “An unprecedented humanitarian disaster is unfolding across East Africa. In line with our humanitarian values, Islamic Relief’s teams are working tirelessly to deliver much-needed food and supplies to those in dire need – irrespective of their faith or background. Millions of men, women and children are undertaking perilous journeys across barren wastelands in search of food, water and shelter. More than 800,000 young children are severely malnourished and at risk of starving to death without immediate treatment.
“We need as many people as possible to fundraise and to donate what they can to help save lives.”
The Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, Head of Christian Aid Scotland, said: “It’s hard to comprehend that in the 21st century people are dying because of a lack of such simple things as food and water. Yet that is the reality. Christian Aid helps people of all faiths and none and a crisis like this is a moment when humans divided by different political persuasions or beliefs can come together and show human solidarity.
“In Ethiopia Christian Aid is providing food for 5,000 schoolchildren and plans to feed a further 15,000. In South Sudan we’re providing fishing nets and fast maturing vegetable seeds to get people back on their feet.
“Across the UK, Christian Aid supporters will be holding collections and fundraising events this weekend.”
In Yirol, Central South Sudan, CAFOD partners are already getting food distributions underway, reaching 12,000 displaced families.
Jo Kitterick, Head of Parish and Volunteer Engagement at CAFOD, said: “We cannot thank our supporters and volunteers enough for once again showing such great faith and trust in CAFOD and the DEC. The enormous response from our supporters has been humbling; schools, parishes and individuals across the Catholic Community of England and Wales are donating, fundraising and praying; a testament to our commitment and willingness to be witnesses of putting our faith into action.
“This weekend some of our Church communities will take up collections, giving what they can. Lent is a time of prayer and reflection, and we ask that the people of East Africa affected by this devastating hunger crisis are kept in our thoughts and prayers.”
In Ethiopia, World Vision has provided food assistance to over 100,000 people in the most drought-affected districts and seeds for more than 4,000 households.
Chine McDonald, Head of Christian Influence & Engagement at World Vision UK, said: “Children in East Africa are dying every day because they have no food. There is no time to waste. We urge church leaders to support this Appeal and encourage congregations this Sunday to open their hearts and dig deep into their pockets. We cannot stand by and watch as children starve to death.”
In South Sudan, Tearfund is distributing food to 17,000 people in Juba, providing access to water, sanitation, food security, livelihoods support, nutrition and cash programming in Jonglei and Northern Bahr El Ghazal, and running a feeding programme for young children in Uror and Twic East.
Donald Mavunduse, Tearfund’s Head of East and Southern Africa, said: “Tearfund is always really well supported by UK churches, and their giving is vital to our work. We are geared up to deliver a mixture of emergency food, water, hygiene items and cash programming in various locations across South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.
“The situation is critical and we need to act quickly, which is why we are so grateful for the faithfulness of our supporters.”